FancyCache: a secondary memory cache for Windows
FancyCache is a new caching product for the Windows operating system that introduces a couple of interesting features that users may find helpful. I'd first like to note that it is currently available as a beta version that uses keyfiles for licenses. These licenses expire after 180 days, but since you do not need to register to download a keyfile, it should not be a problem right now. It is however not clear if the product will be offered for free once it is out of beta or if it will only be available as a commercial product then.
Update: The product has been renamed to PrimoCache. It is still listed as a beta product by the company developing it. A 90-day trial is available for download.
The basic idea behind FancyCache is to use system memory as a cache. That does not sound too spectacular at first, but there are situations where this may come in handy.
- If you have 4 Gigabyte or more RAM installed and run a 32-bit version of Windows, you may have noticed that part of the RAM is not really used by the system. With FancyCache, you can utilize the "invisible memory" on your PC for caching purposes so that it is put to use.
- It can extend the life of Solid State Drives by using something that is called Defer Write. What this does basically is consolidate writes to the same address so that writes to the SSD are reduced as a consequence.
- Improve the performance of the drive under certain circumstances, for instance when write-heavy applications are running.
FancyCache is available in two different editions. The disk edition implements the cache for hard drives, the volume edition for partitions. Once you have installed the program on your system and restarted the PC, you need to download the latest available license file from the official forum. Download the key file to your system and launch the application afterwards.
Click on the register button in the interface, switch to "Activate using a license key file", click on browse next to key file and select the file that you have just downloaded. You need to restart the computer a second time before the program is registered correctly.
To activate the cache for a drive or partition, select it in the list in the program window. You can configure the cache before you enable it, select the cache size for instance (this will be taken from system memory), the block size, algorithm, and whether you want a read and write caching strategy or only read or write caching.
Defer Write needs to be enabled separately, and the important figure here is latency. It determines the time writes are consolidated before written to the system. Note that data loss may occur if the computer is powered down for whatever reason in that time.
You can also enable a Level-2 caching here which works very similar to Readyboost but is more flexible in regards to the drive that you can select for that purpose. The program ships with a performance monitor that you can use to test various configurations.
FancyCache is an interesting program for users of 32-bit Windows systems with 4 or more Gigabyte of RAM, for PCs with Solid State Drives, and applications that perform many write operations on the system.
The two downsides currently are the unclear licensing situation after the program is released as a stable version, and the many restarts that it requires. Besides requiring restarts after installation and registration with a license key, it also may require a restart when you make changes to the configuration.